Russian military in Belarus threatens Baltics, Poland, says Lithuanian president

A photo from the Russian Defence Ministry shows the Grad multiple rocket launcher firing at mock enemy targets in Belarus. PHOTO: AFP

VILNIUS (REUTERS) - Russia has amassed 45,000 soldiers in Belarus and their presence is threatening to Baltic states and Poland, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Thursday (Feb 17).

The joint Russia and Belarus military exercise near the Belarus border with Ukraine is scheduled to end on Sunday.

Tensions between Moscow and Nato capitals are high following weeks of United States accusations that Russia has deployed up to 150,000 troops near Ukraine's borders for an invasion.

Moscow accuses the West of hysteria and denies it wants to invade.

"They amassed 45,000 troops, a lot of military equipment, air forces. And we do not hear very clearly articulated promises that this will be removed to Russian territory after the military exercise ends. This is one more way to keep the tension up", said Nauseda, in a video statement after an EU leaders meeting in Brussels.

"This creates more potential threats now and for Baltic States and Poland," he added.

Baltic States - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - as well as Poland are European Union and Nato members.

Nato is looking to increase its military presence in the Baltic states and Poland in case Russia keeps its troops in Belarus after the exercise, the head of the alliance's military committee said on Feb 7.

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